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16:52 22nd August 2009

Report: Blades fight back to win

Reading 1 (Mills 13)
Sheff Utd 3 (Quinn 42, Ward 63, Cotterill 90)

The Royals slipped from a one-goal lead to suffer a 3-1 loss at the hands of Sheffield United this Saturday afternoon.

Matthew Mills scored our first League goal of the season with a neat header from debutant Gylfi Sigurdsson's free kick and we were well on top for most of the first half, but that crucial second goal never came.

Against the run of play Stephen Quinn sidefooted home just before half time, and Sigurdsson then hit the post with a brilliant left footed effort on the hour mark.

But again United bucked the flow of the match and scored through Jamie Ward; Adam Federici uncharacteristically letting his 22-yard drive slip through his fingers.

We huffed and puffed in search of an equaliser, but didn't quite a clear chance and when Dave Cotterill scored a superb third in injury time it was game over.

Reading (4-4-2 diamond): Federici; Rosenior, Bertrand (Harper 88), Mills, Pearce (c); Karacan, Cisse (Davies 67), Tabb; Sigurdsson, Hunt (Church 75), Long
Subs: Hamer, Gunnarsson, Henry, Robson-Kanu

Sheff Utd (4-4-2): Bunn; Walker, Taylor, Kilgallon, Morgan (c); Montgomery, Quinn, Ward, Treacy (Cotterill 27); Evans (France 86), Henderson
Subs: Bennett, Bromby, Reid, Sharp
Booked: Morgan (foul 29), Cotterill (foul 66)

Attendance: 16,025

Ref: MP Russell

First half
The Blades had a very good chance with only four minutes gone, and Keith Treacy really should have done better than to blast a volley over from eight yards.

Reading then settled into the game a little more, and soon enough had their first League goal of the season.

We won a free kick wide on the left hand side, and Gylfi Sigurdsson, making his first League appearance for the club, whipped in a very good set piece, and Matthew Mills got himself free to head home from close range.

The goal gave us a tangible lift, and we very nearly had a second just a minute later. There was a real melee inside the box, and Sigurdsson showed great skill to dance some space while Noel Hunt looked to have a strong penalty claim but nothing was given. The pressure was all on the Blades' goal and soon enough Hunt was not quite able to get enough on a header.

We were playing with confidence, and put together a lovely move on 23 that nearly resulted in a cracking goal. Jay Tabb started the sequence, finding the lively Shane Long. Hunt then took possession, finding Tabb again but the shot was narrowly over as our crowd applauded the quality involved.

Just before the half hour the Blades survived another close thing in their box, Sigurdsson's flicked header very nearly finding a teammate as it rolled wide past the far post.

Then Ryan Bertrand went on a cracking run from the back, going close to 40 yards in possession. Blades skipper Chris Morgan cynically hacked him down, and was rightly booked for an agricultural challenge.

Then against the run of play Blades drew themselves level. They worked the ball deep to Ched Evans on the right, and the Royals were outnumbered. He drove across the box, and it was perhaps a shot at goal but ended up as a perfect pass to Stephen Quinn at the back post; the midfielder sidefooting into the roof of the net.

And Evans could have made it 2-1 before the break, but smacked a volley well over from a decent position inside the box. The Royals were a little unfortunate to be level because they had enjoyed the majority of possession, but United had created some good chances as well.

Second half
United began the second period with a spring in their step, and saw a goal disallowed just four minutes after the restart. Former Reading man Darius Hederson was adjudged to have climbed on Bertrand as he headed home at the far post, and it looked a tough decision.

The Royals then began to take control again, and Sigurdsson was at the heart of our best play with some great trickery and two good feet on his League bow.

On 57 minutes he was only a few inches from a superb goal, cutting inside his man superbly but grazing the outside of the post from 22 yards; the 'keeper beaten.

Then the Blades scored a second, and once more against the run of play. A throw in was worked short to Jamie Ward, who hit a decent speculative drive from 20 yards. Adam Federici seemingly lost sight of the ball and it slipped through his fingers at waist height for what can unfortunately only be described as a very soft goal.

It was cruel on the Royals, but gave the Blades a stranglehold on the game and they looked much more comfortable than the home faithful would have liked.

With 12 minutes left substitute Simon Church was almost in from a long pass, but 'keeper Mark Bunn did well to head clear. Down the other end, Henderson's header forced Federici into a low save at his feet.

Tabb soon found himself in space inside the box, but as he stood up a cross to the back post Long had chosen not to get in front of his man. Then Blades countered, sub Ryan France forcing Federici into a low save.

Then France had another opportunity to seal the points as he went one-on-one with Federici but shot wide.

As the board went up to show four minutes of injury time, United rounded off the victory in some style. Dave Cotterill found himself in space 25 yards out, and thundered in a stunning drive that gave Federici absolutely no chance.

3-1 probably flattered the visitors, especially as both of their first goals had come against the run of play. But the second goal was a difficult hurdle to overcome and we just could not get that equaliser we so craved.

    Data provided by Press Association